"Flirt Club Addis Ababa"

Flirt Lounge claims to be busier than ever. It is a lounge in any sense of the word, as it is both comfortable, not too informal, and certain decorum can be observed next to the live music performances

Flirt Lounge, claiming its fame for offering patrons live music, reopened in its new location in Lucky Building on the road between Edna Mall and Friendship City Centre around three months ago.

The venue where the lounge was located previously, since its opening in 2009, was the former Jambo Building, now Mafi Building, on Cameroon Street in Bole Medhanialem; but it became too small, according to Helina W. Meskel, marketing head for Yoha International Trading, a sister company of Flirt.

“It was a good move,” she told Fortune. “We are busier than ever since we can accommodate more people now.”

The new venue is situated on the ground floor of the building, with a large entrance leading to a small foyer where a small shop sells cigarettes, T-shirts, and photographs. To the right, one gains access to the lounge through another large curtained entrance, walking almost onto the stage area.

Some weeknights, the stage, which is not raised, hosts bands. While the lounge’s line-up has changed since its move, it sill features Nubian Arc, a jazz funk band, every second Wednesday.

Every Tuesday, Habesha Beatz takes to the stage. The music starts at around 10:00pm, and the lounge remains pretty empty and quiet until then.

Just inside the curtained entrance, a stairway leads to the second level, which is as large as about of half of the bottom level. The corrugated iron banister of the stairs continues along the edge of the upper level, affording patrons upstairs a clear view of the stage area at the bottom; unless, of course, they are seated in the booths by the window facing the street.

These are reserved for customers buying bottles of liquor, which can be served with a sparkler (a small stick that burns like a miniature firework when lighted but which is generally not dangerous).

For the remainder of the week, the music is not live, but Mondays are themed “Arabian Night” and features Middle Eastern music. From Thursdays until Saturdays, Flirt is a chill out lounge.

To suit its name, Flirt is furnished luxuriously and comfortably. The walls are lined with wide cushioned seats that are in turn kitted out with a great many small pillows. Small low wooden tables offer patrons a surface on which to place their consumables, with small stools covered in velvety red fabric supplying the seats in the centre of the room.

The candles on the tables and the low lighting contribute to the atmosphere of relaxing in luxury. Yet, there is also an energetic ambience, created not only by the music but also the patrons enjoying the show.

The low lighting is provided mainly by a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling smack in the middle of the room, as well as single bare bulbs hanging down from above the long wide bar. Behind the bar are shelves of bottles, neatly arranged, of almost any liquor that comes to mind.

During happy hour, which is everyday between 5:00pm (the lounge’s opening time) and 8:00pm, the prices of some of these are discounted, by as much as 50pc. Local beer and vodka are sold for half price this early in the evening. A mixed vodka cocktail costs 20 Br.

However, some remarked that it is a tiny little drink. It was subsequently pointed out to the complainer by his friends that it is the size of a single shot with chaser. This was accepted, but the drink still disappeared in seconds, along with the food.

The menu consists of four snacks: all canapés with different toppings. On offer are armanti ham, steak, mushrooms, and ham and cheese (all 46 Br). One can also have three different ones for 93 Br (all prices are inclusive of VAT).

Each dish consists of eight small squares of sandwich: it boils downs to two sandwiches (four slices of bread) of which each is cut into four pieces. However, on June 14, only ham and cheese was available.

“It is not a restaurant,” Helina explained the menu. “We only offer snacks. We plan to expand the menu beyond canapés, but it will remain in the line of snacks.”

Given that Flirt Lounge really becomes busy much later than dinner time, this decision seems reasonable.

Friday and Saturday nights after 8:00pm are the lounge’s busiest times, according to Helina. The laidback vibe and jazzy tunes also deter kids, she claimed. The patrons are aged between their mid 20s and 50s, estimated the marketing head.

Aside from Flirt, Yoha International has other sister companies in the entertainment industry. These include Club Illusion, located next to Ambassador Theatre, and two branches of Red Bean Café, one of which is in Bole, across from Millennium Hall, and the other recently opened in Haya-hulet Mazoria.

While Flirt’s entertainment leaves little to be desired, its hospitality is likewise top notch. The waiters and waitresses, dressed in black bottoms and white shirts (the men don bowties as well) are friendly and service is prompt. There are even regular ashtray changes.

Even the doormen are friendly, and prohibit one from taking in one’s own water bottle in a friendly manner. They keep it safe and the bottle can be retrieved upon departure, which may be as late as 3:00am, the official closing time of the lounge, along with any jackets and scarves left for safekeeping with the concierge.

The toilets are also located at the door, just outside the main entrance. While it is clean and has liquid soap, there is nothing with which to dry one’s hands.

The biggest drawback is, perhaps, that the lounge is not easy to find as there is no sign up on the outside of the building.

“The building is new and not completely finished yet,” Helina told Fortune. “Once it is completed, we can put up a sign.”

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